Adultery in South Carolina is a leading cause of fault-based divorce. Adultery is included as one of the statutory grounds for a fault-based divorce. This means that it can lead to a quicker divorce – if all other legal requirements are finalized – than having to wait the traditional full year that couples are required to be separated.
Adultery is often believed to be a full romantic relationship between two people that are not married to each other, while at least one party remains married to someone else. While a full romantic relationship would classify as adultery, adultery can also be less than a full relationship. In fact, South Carolina courts have at times held even the smallest romantic acts that should be shared only between spouses can rise to the level of corroborating adultery for legal purposes. Some cases have held that “I love you” sent in text messages of parties that are not married to each other is enough. Other courts have found that sending inappropriate pictures, small gifts, and even telephone conversations at “odd” hours is enough to constitute the necessary legal grounds. This just makes it clear there is no exact definition or set of acts, and so it is good to keep in mind that any acts in the realm of adultery may impact your case.
The requirement to prove adultery in South Carolina does not require that a moving party show that the spouse actually had sexual intercourse with another person. The law requires that evidence supporting that the spouse had an opportunity and circumstances were available that if the spouse wanted and desired to have sexual intercourse or participate in illicit sexual conduct with someone else, that they could have. While Courts rarely, if ever, require that you have pictures, videos, or other actual proof of such “bedroom” activities; the evidence you do provide should be substantial enough that a reasonable person would believe that your spouse had an opportunity and inclination to commit adultery, even if it is circumstantial evidence.
Another misconception is that parties are free to date and do what they want following the physical separation between spouses. In South Carolina, this is not always the case because the law upholds that during the year of physical separation prior to filing the divorce couples are still considered to be legally “married.” As such, even if you and your spouse separate and live-in different homes, your behavior and romantic relationships could still possibly count as adultery. An experienced family law attorney can help you better understand the intricacies of this process and how to navigate them.
While people usually think of the variety of personal opinions, moral beliefs, and devastating effects to families when it comes to adultery – it is important to know about the legal implications to you, your spouse, children, and how they can ultimately shape the course of how your legal case proceeds. Often clients may not want to disclose to their own attorney that they have been involved in an adulterous relationship for many reasons; however, it is crucial to disclose that information to your attorney so that they can be prepared to defend and/or properly advise you regarding the impacts of adultery on your legal matters.
Likewise, if you are a spouse that finds out your partner has committed or is possibly committing adultery, then you should proceed with caution when it comes to deciding how to handle the situation. If you suspect your significant other may be engaging in an extramarital affair, it is a good idea to consult with an experience family law attorney about the best course of action to take. You may need to hire a Private Investigator to obtain evidence, you may need to save bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, or document things that “are not normal” for your spouse’s behavior. Further, your actions when confronting your spouse can change the legal course of your action and could have huge, unintended impacts on remedies and what options you may have for moving forward. For instance, if you find out adultery has occurred and you thereafter indicate to your spouse that they are forgiven, you may not be able to use adultery as a basis or ground in your legal proceedings.
Sharing the love can cost you time, money, and may lead to a more difficult path to divorce, which is why hiring an experienced family law attorney is crucial. Regardless of what challenges you face, the attorneys at Sodoma Law York are dedicated to helping you and your family find the best path forward for adultery in South Carolina or any other family law issue. See our Adultery FAQ page.